Essay About Writing Style

Academic Writing Style

It is important to note that knowing about the process of essay writing and how to structure an essay is important; however, knowing about the appropriate style and conventions to use in your writing is equally important. Academic writing is structured, formal and objective. Its language is often abstract and complex.

For example, compare the following two paragraphs: although the ideas expressed in the paragraphs are the same, one presents them in a much more formal, academic way.

Example 1Example 2
Capital is a complex notion. There are many definitions of the word itself, and capital as applied in accounting can be viewed conceptually from a number of standpoints; that is, there is legal capital, financial capital and physical capital. The application of financial and physical concepts of capital is not straightforward as there are various permutations of these concepts applied in the business environment...Capital is a difficult thing to understand. We can explain it in different ways, and in accounting we can look at it from different angles. Accountants talk about legal capital, financial capital and physical capital. How we apply financial and physical concepts of capital isn't easy because people in business use it differently...

The use of many language and grammatical devices have contributed to the formality of the first example paragraph. Rollover the paragraph below to see the various features annotated.

In the second example paragraph, grammatical features such as the use of everyday language, personal language, contractions, the active voice and phrasal verbs contribute to the more informal and personal nature of this paragraph. Although there are distinct differences apparent in different types of writing in the various university disciplines (i.e. writing in the sciences as compared to writing in a humanities based discipline), the language features evident in the first example contribute to an appropriate academic style.

Click here for more detailed information on the words, structures and conventions of academic writing.



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Essay Writing

Summary:

The Modes of Discourse—Exposition, Description, Narration, Argumentation (EDNA)—are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these approaches and students’ need to understand and produce them.

Contributors: Jack Baker, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2018-02-09 12:42:48

This resource begins with a general description of essay writing and moves to a discussion of common essay genres students may encounter across the curriculum. The four genres of essays (description, narration, exposition, and argumentation) are common paper assignments you may encounter in your writing classes. Although these genres, also known as the modes of discourse, have been criticized by some composition scholars, the Purdue OWL recognizes the wide spread use of these genres and students’ need to understand and produce these types of essays. We hope these resources will help.

Overview

The essay is a commonly assigned form of writing that every student will encounter while in academia. Therefore, it is wise for the student to become capable and comfortable with this type of writing early on in her training.

Essays can be a rewarding and challenging type of writing and are often assigned either to be done in class, which requires previous planning and practice (and a bit of creativity) on the part of the student, or as homework, which likewise demands a certain amount of preparation. Many poorly crafted essays have been produced on account of a lack of preparation and confidence. However, students can avoid the discomfort often associated with essay writing by understanding some common genres.

Before delving into its various genres, let’s begin with a basic definition of the essay.

What is an essay?

Though the word essay has come to be understood as a type of writing in Modern English, its origins provide us with some useful insights. The word comes into the English language through the French influence on Middle English; tracing it back further, we find that the French form of the word comes from the Latin verb exigere, which means "to examine, test, or (literally) to drive out." Through the excavation of this ancient word, we are able to unearth the essence of the academic essay: to encourage students to test or examine their ideas concerning a particular topic.

Essays are shorter pieces of writing that often require the student to hone a number of skills such as close reading, analysis, comparison and contrast, persuasion, conciseness, clarity, and exposition. As is evidenced by this list of attributes, there is much to be gained by the student who strives to succeed at essay writing.

The purpose of an essay is to encourage students to develop ideas and concepts in their writing with the direction of little more than their own thoughts (it may be helpful to view the essay as the converse of a research paper). Therefore, essays are (by nature) concise and require clarity in purpose and direction. This means that there is no room for the student’s thoughts to wander or stray from his or her purpose; the writing must be deliberate and interesting.

This handout should help students become familiar and comfortable with the process of essay composition through the introduction of some common essay genres.

This handout includes a brief introduction to the following genres of essay writing:

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